I have lots of stories in my head about times and people and places and things that are now mostly gone. It has been on my mind for a long time that I needed to make an attempt at collecting and preserving some of these impressions from my passage or one day they all would be lost. It may well be that this document, along with my journals, collections of poetry and photographs, will be lost and forgotten anyway. I have no fantasy that this or any of the other material is art or literature. I think of it more like a virtual time capsule.
Going to all this effort seems to me a somewhat egocentric thing to do. I don’t want to be viewed as being self absorbed. Yet I sorely wish something like this had been done by my father or mother or their parents or ancestors. As I write, these fragments often take on a dream like aspect. I have found myself asking more than once if these things really happened. Friends have on occasion accused me of having a fertile imagination. But I have herein avoided the temptation of embellishment. I have tried to write a documentary, not an autobiography. I never asked for this job. I just outlasted everyone.
I am still the keeper of hours of audio recordings and boxes of photos of my mother and father and paternal grandfather as well as various other characters that played prominent roles in my past. The photos and recordings are detailed snapshots in time. But like these fragments of my memory, they often leave us unsatisfied, wanting to hear the back story about how and why they came to be captured in that moment. We are left hungry to hear about what their lives were like, their dreams, their tragedies, who they really were. I never asked the hard questions when they were still here. What really happened before I was old enough to understand? How it was for them? I should have.
But even though we are frustrated not knowing the real situations and motives of those long ago, I have none the less decided not to include some relatively recent stories and information in this work, mostly concerning a few former family members and acquaintances that are still living. It would not be possible to honestly discuss my relationship with them or the role they played in my passage without causing controversy or even hard feelings. There would be nothing to be gained. As I said, I want to write a documentary, not an autobiography, or worse an expose. It’s enough for me to know that they know who they are, what really happened, and that I still remember exactly where all the bodies are buried.
Having said all that, I leave this document for your reading if you so choose to glimpse some passing fragments of my qualia.
Kenneth Robert Philpot March 2019